Scouting for Fixtures: May 08 – May 14

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

Guy chatting absolutely anything in a desperate attempt to keep the reader’s attention in this football-esque blog. I also do football previews, kinda… 

All times are GMT.

Juventus vs Monaco ( Tue 09 19:45 )

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The end is near for Monaco, as hopes dwindle for the chance for the Champions League. Hats off to Monaco, as they’re the first French team in the semi-finals in 7 years, but winning the trophy has not been accomplished by France since 1993. The first leg ended 0-2 to Juve so Monaco has to score at least three times at San Siro. Might as well pack your bags and call it a night as the last time that happened was the 3rd of November 2012 against a legendary Inter Milan side. But yet again, I reiterate, Monaco is the best-attacking side in the world as of now.  Expect a do-or-die attitude from the away side on Tuesday, with a good chance of ending up a high scoring game.

Boca Juniors vs River Plate ( Sat 13 22:00 )

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There is only a handful of times where 22 men kicking a ball around for an hour and a half can bring a city to a grinding halt. Milan, Glasgow, Rome, Cairo and Buenos Aires. To some football is a religion but in this case, Scientology is a more accurate description, because they are as crazy and hardcore as fans come (in a good way).

Derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about

– The Guardian

Usually when your dishing out nicknames, its creative, like the Red Devils or the Gunners. These guys don’t hold back. River Plate is known as Las Gallinas for choking throughout the years. Pretty tame to be honest. In an act of vengeance, Boca Juniors are known as Los Bosteros, which roughly translates to livestock faeces or crap dwellers. Literally shits and giggles with these guys. There have been some truly blockbuster level games over the years, with 5 players sent off in the game last year. Buenos Aires has been an incubator for great talent over the years, needless to say, it’s worth staying up late for this one.

Tottenham vs Manchester United ( Sun 14 16:30 )

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Oh, how the tables have turned, literally. Five years ago you would’ve seen Manchester United chasing for the title and Tottenham hoping to get into the champions league. The sad thing for Tottenham fans is that even though they’re playing the best football I’ve seen in my lifetime; there is no silverware – probably – to show for it. Their opponents are in the semi-finals of the Europa league. Even their rivals Arsenal, as bad as their season has been, is in an FA cup final. The psychological value of physically holding that trophy is one which is invaluable for a player, justifying the hard work they put in. More of a long term consideration for Spurs players. The current situation at Old Trafford could be the plot points of the next A Series of Unfortunate Events novel. Rashford and Young limped off the field on Thursday, joining Ibrahimovic, Shaw, Rojo and Mensah on the sidelines, as Bailly and Smalling continue recovery. This late in the season, games like this make or break it.

Side note: This was written before Arsenal played Manchester United.

Real Madrid vs Sevilla ( Sun 14 19:00 )

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Real Madrid is one of the best teams in the world. According to the UEFA coefficient, they are THE best team, followed by Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Juventus (in that order). However the last time Los Blancos won La Liga was 5 years ago, while the others won their leagues 1, 1, 3 and 1 year ago respectively. If Real Madrid wins their two games in hand they will win the league. Real Madrid has Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Malaga left to play. Sevilla is undoubtedly the toughest opponents, as Los Blancos have won, drawn and lost with Sevilla this year already. Madrid can’t afford a loss, and neither can Sevilla. The away side is chasing their own hopes of champions league, holding onto the last qualifiers spot. Losing this game could shrink the gap to 3 point cliff with a game to go. If past visits are anything to go by, this is going to be an eventful game. And one Sergio Ramos will be at the centre of it, probably.

Games I would have written about but was too lazy:

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid ( Wed 10 19:54 )

Manchester United vs Celta Vigo ( Thu 11 20:05 )

Lyon vs Ajax ( Thu 11 20:05 )

RasenBallsport Leipzig vs Bayern Munich ( Sat 13 14:30 )

Atalanta vs AC Milan ( Sat 13 19:45 )

Crystal Palace vs Hull ( Sun 14 12:00 )

Roma vs Juventus ( Sun 14 19:45 )

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Scouting for Fixtures: Jan 23 – Jan 29

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. As well as seeking out the most entertaining games, each preview weaves the clubs into a greater football narrative. Each article is a selection of hand picked upcoming matches worldwide that week, which looks set for 90 minutes of non-stop action. 

All times are GMT.

Napoli vs Fiorentina ( Tue 24 19:45 )

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The rise of Napoli and steady decline of Fiorentina can be mapped almost in tandem since 2006. At the end of the 2005/06 season Fiorentina finally, after years of crawling through the lower tiers of Italian football, secured a Champions league qualifying spot. Just days later, word gets out of an Italian football scandal involving Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio, Reggina and – you guessed it – Fiorentina. While the rigging was orchestrated by Juve, Fiorentina still had their part to play, to which the club was docked 15 points in the following season and stripped of their precious UCL qualifying spot. In an even more bizarre turn of events, the following season they finished as high up as they ever would till this day, securing a spot in the UCL group stages at 3rd*. The following season a newly promoted Napoli burst onto the scene, finishing their first season back in Serie A 9th. Along with the rise of Napoli, Lazio and Roma’s recent resurrection, Fiorentina was pushed out. Now La Viola sits between Torino and Cagliari in 9th place while Napoli is playing some of the best football in the league. Napoli’s stats are those akin to champions, with the most goals scored (45), shots per game (18.2), pass accuracy (87.5%) and possession (59.4%). Now Fiorentina is not to be underestimated. Yes, their league form is shaky, but they are capable of punching well above their weight. When La viola faced Napoli just 1 month ago, they kept up with Napoli’s firing squad up front, retaining a 3-3 draw. But what got heads turning was when last week Fiorentina beat the champions Juventus 2-1. Now Fiorentina is 3 steps away from winning the Coppa Italia, which they haven’t done in 16 years, and along with it arrives a ticket to the Champions league.

*If you though the Serie isn’t competitive enough now, imagine the gulf in 2006/07, where a team deducted 15 points managed to finish 3rd. So let’s take another league which is now stigmatised with the label uncompetitive, Ligue 1. If we go back to the 2006/07 season, turns out if the team who finished 3rd (Rennes) was docked 15 points from their total points at the end of the season, they would finish 18th and be relegated to Ligue 2!

RB Leipzig vs Hoffenheim ( Sat 28 14:30 )

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For those unfamiliar with geomagnetic reversal, it’s the process of the Earth’s magnetic poles, switching, usually every 450,000 years. A similar process is taking place in the Bundesliga as we speak, literally being turned on its head, apart from the unmoving FC Bayern*. You see top teams like Schalke, Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz switch places with sides which would usually be predicted to be lower down the table. In the football equivalent of Freaky Friday*2, RB Leipzig is 2nd, Hoffenheim are 5th. Now usually I would give you a synopsis on how Hoffenheim reached 5th place, but in this case, I found an article by These Football Times explaining it perfectly:

‘A key factor in Nagelsmann’s [Hoffenheim manager] philosophy is lodged in his ability to understand how to use his youth and lack of top-tier professional playing experience to his benefit rather than allow it be a hindrance.’

‘We have a plan for every match situation. It’s an incredibly flexible system. We can switch easily between three, four and five at the back during a game. We’re more unpredictable to play against this season, which is one of our big strengths.’ – Niklas Sule, Hoffenheim defender.

As good as Hoffenheim are, RB Leipzig has scored more goals and conceded fewer goals while also placed higher on the table. The synergy in Leipzig is so successful in part due to having a young, malleable squad, with an age limit on any signings above 24. Promoting youth also is integral to the fuel intensive gegenpress employed by Ragnick. However, even the energetic youth of Leipzig may struggle in the upcoming weeks. On the 21st of January, the home side plays an another rising team, Eintracht Frankfurt. They will kick lumps out of their opposition, accredited as the most aggressive side in the league with 47 yellow cards and 3 red cards so far. The following week they play the ingenious Hoffenheim followed by Dortmund, managed by Tomas Tuchel, the man who gave Nagelsmann’s football education. Both sides are beginning to bear the fruit of their hard work; two separate but equally captivating fairy tales converge for 90 minutes.

*My analogy wasn’t built to withstand any substantial scrutiny.

*2Freaky Friday is a movie about people who switch bodies, subsequently living the lives of the person who’s body they now inhabit. In fairness, these two clubs earned their way to the top instead of simply reading a fortune cookie.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Monaco ( Sun 29 20:00 )

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PSG are so strong compared to the other teams. I do not really take pleasure in matches. Italy is different, you have eight big matches in a season but in France it is two. And that’s coming from a former PSG player (Lavezzi), after they beat Troyes 9-0 in March with 8 games to spare, winning their fourth league title in a row and 25 points ahead of the next closest team. Fair enough. The words competition and Ligue 1 were almost considered antonyms after Lyon collected every league title from 2001-08, then you saw the hallmarks of PSG replicating that success after they collected their 4th title in 4 years. At least now we have 3 sides with a good chance of winning the league this season: Nice, Monaco and PSG. Right now, if you want to be entertained, Monaco is THE side to watch. Most surprising about Monaco’s insane goal tally is the shots per game. When a side scores 60 goals in 20 games, you’d expect a pulp-fiction level of shots fired, yet it’s only 13.2 per game. In shots to goal conversion (STG), Monaco is the most clinical in the world (of first division sides). To compare to the other elite sides (Monaco has an STG of 22.7%), Barcelona has 15.6%, Feyenoord 15.0%, Real Madrid 14.5%, while PSG has a respectable 13.8%. The away side face one of their toughest trips of the year, as PSG are currently undefeated in Parc de Princes. The top 3 are separated by 3 points, and if PSG can beat Monaco they are on equal points as them, while Monaco looks to keep up with Nice, only 1 point ahead.

Other Mentions: 

Juventus vs AC Milan ( Wed 25 19:45 )

Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid ( Wed 25 20:15 )

Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC ( Thu 26 08:50 )

Barcelona vs Real Sociedad ( Thu 26 20:15 )

Lyon vs Lille ( Sat 28 16:00 )

Boca Juniors vs River Plate ( Sun 29 01:10 )

Torino vs Atalanta ( Sun 29 11:30 )

Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad ( Sun 29 19:45 )

Feel like I missed out any matches or want to give any feedback? Comment Below!


Sources:

WhoScored

http://thesefootballtimes.co/2016/05/25/juventus-calciopoli-and-a-year-in-serie-b/

http://thesefootballtimes.co/2017/01/10/julian-nagelsmann-and-the-reshaping-of-football-management/

http://www.foxsportsasia.com/news/leipzig-bundesliga-flying-start-analysis/

http://www.goal.com/en/news/1722/ligue-1/2016/03/13/21272902/paris-saint-germain-win-the-ligue-1-title-with-club-record

http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/465/france/2016/03/16/21372472/i-didnt-like-playing-in-ligue-1-says-former-psg-forward

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_French_football_champions

Scouting for Fixtures: Apr 18 – Apr 24

Scouting for fixtures is a weekly blog for people who love the beautiful game. It comes out every Sunday and hand picks upcoming matches worldwide that week, which look set  for 90 minutes of non-stop action.

All times are in GMT.

Described by the BBC as ‘a sea of colourful flowing banners, screams and roars, chanting, dancing and never-ending fireworks’, sounds alright.

  1. FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas ( Mon 18 00:00 )

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Blink and you’ll miss it. The phrase ‘first thing in the morning’ has never been more literal (for anyone who lives in the UK) as we see the top 2 in the MLS play in one of the high profile games of the season. Both conferences combined, these two stand above the rest in their rankings and performances. Dallas are the pack leaders with 14 points in 7 games and sit in 1st. Closely behind in 2nd follow Sporting Kansas with 12 points and a mean streak, seeing 3 red cards already. Dallas may have only lost one game so far, but the 5-0 thrashing they took from Houston is an embarrassing display of all the faults, still unresolved in their backline, epitomised by one of the most moronic own goal I’ve seen in a long time. This fixture in particular has a knack for goals, having an impressive record of averaging 5.2 goals a game in 5 games. If for whatever reason you’re awake this early, then you might as well watch this thriller of a game.

 

 

4. Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund ( Wed 20 19:30 )

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A cup fixture now in Germany, the semi-finals between Hertha BSC and BVB is Dortmund’s last notable chance of silverware in a remarkable but unfruitful season. It’s an sad truth that BVB fans have to deal with; as Bayern monopolised the Bundesliga since 2011, it seems no matter how good they get they can’t dethrone the Bavarian side. Now out of Europe in a shock 4-3 loss to Liverpool, Bayern are on course for a 4th consecutive Bundesliga title, a feat never achieved in the top tier of german football, ever. 7 points adrift and 4 games remaining the likelihood of BVB overtaking FC Bayern is unlikely, but possible. For HSC, the stagnation of never ending promotion to relegation seems to have ended. Similar to that of Leicester this season, the underdogs have turned from relegation candidates to champions league candidates within 2 seasons. With Europe is still in question, this is most likely chance for Hertha to win this competition for the first time ever. Dortmund will still be hurting from the Europa League exit and will go all out to secure a cup win, and for BSC, this would be the perfect end to an already stelar season.

 

 

3. Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid ( Wed 20 19:45 )

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More midweek action from the continent, so we head to Spain in an intriguing matchup between the Bilbao side scrambling for European spots, while Atleti need to find a solution to their unenviable problems. As it stands, As well as Atleti, Bilbao also face their two main rivals in Celta Vigo and Sevilla in the next 5 weeks in the race for Europa league. Only 4 points separate the 3 clubs and with time at a premium, every point counts. The same applies to Atletico Madrid who see themselves with the chance to win an unexpected double. Everything is going right for Simeone and his men. Last week they knocked out cup favourites Barcelona in the Champions league, compounding to what’s been a downward spiral for the Catalonian club. Barca losing 3 matches in a row, Atleti closed the gap to 3 points only and have a very real chance of winning La Liga. This is also a chance to redo the dramatic finish that ended in Atleti losing the final to their polar opposites in Real Madrid, 2 years ago. For a team to keep out MSN and Co. makes them a formidable opponent for any team, and in my eyes I can see them winning the whole thing. It’s going to be interesting to see if Simeone has put all is eggs in one basket, be it La Liga or the Champions League, or believes they can do the double. This is Bilbao’s chance to attack as the Madrid side have a heavy fixture list, as the season comes to it’s final stages.

 

 

2. Liverpool vs Everton ( Wed 20 20:00 )

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The oldest running top flight derby returns, as Everton travel a brief 0.7 miles south to face Liverpool in the 226th Merseyside derby. Having a history this long, the Merseyside has it’s collection of defining moments. Gary McAllister’s screamer,  Fowler’s risky celebration and Terry McDermott’s goal of the season being the ones that come to mind. In the current state, everything looks set up for another cracker at Anfield. Liverpool come into the big game after a resurgence and emphatic win against cup favourites, Borussia Dortmund. Real mental strength was shown by Klopp and his men, coming back from 3-1 down to win 4-3, boosting confidence and morale for the upcoming game against the Toffees. Everton though, are falling apart as Martinez tries to revive the Everton we saw in the first half of the season. This side are a shadow of their former selves, but are still capable of thrashing any team with a potent attack, personified by Lukaku. This is Everton’s chance to hit the reset button. A win against their biggest rivals could be the jumpstart needed to steady the ship, with questions of Martinez’s future looming.

 

 

5. Boca Juniors vs River Plate ( Sun 24 20:00 )

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The Superclásico returns as now we head to Buenos Aires where the Blue and Gold take on Los Milloranios. For the first time in a long time you don’t have to stay up till 1 in the morning to catch this game, as now the Sunday night fixture allows a huge crowd to witness this footballing event. The atmosphere is second to none, and being in the stadium during the derby is one only a few lucky people get to experience. As the crowd jumps up and down, the stands bounce and shake to the rhythm of the game. Described by the BBC as ‘a sea of colourful flowing banners, screams and roars, chanting, dancing and never-ending fireworks’, sounds alright. The game itself is unquestionably entertaining and the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, encapsulated by the best 0-1 you will ever see.

 

 

Other Mentions:

Juventus vs Lazio ( Wed 20 19:45 )

Roma vs Torino ( Wed 20 19:45 )

Real Madrid vs Villarreal ( Wed 20 21:00 )

Schalke 04 vs Bayer Leverkusen ( Sat 23 17:30 )

Feel like I missed out any matches or wanna give me any feedback? Comment Below.